February is celebrated in America as Black History Month. As a Black person, I’ve been studying history, including Black American History, for most of my life. Many of the programs and movies showing on streaming services highlight the lives and journeys of famous Afro-American actors and writers. Most of the programs also have commentators who tell their stories and how they identify with the famed person of color. These are feel-good stories of sorts. I thought about how in my family, the children were encouraged to break in and breakthrough. You see, if my parents or relatives accomplished a goal or some remarkable feat, those coming up behind them were expected to take what others had done to the next level. Not too much time was spent reflecting on what had been done, but more time was spent thinking of what one could do more significantly than what had already been done. Voiceovers are a lot like that. Don’t just break in, breakthrough as a voice talent.
In this changing society, new and improving voice actors should focus on breaking into and breaking through the business. It’s more than just making money; it’s making one’s own unique space in the voice-over industry. Becoming an authentic, sought-after talent is breaking through as a voice actor.
Reflect On The Past But Aim For The Future
Many of us have heard of Don LaFontaine, Mel Blanc, and Jean Vander Pyl. These voices are only a few of the many talents who have blazed trails in the voice-acting business over the decades. The names of many famous talents, who broke the voice-acting mold, will never graze our lips in casual conversation.
Voice actors should study the efforts and strides of talents of all races and backgrounds and then use that information to help shape their breakthrough journey. “Breaking in” stops you at the door. “Breaking through” leads you up the steps and paths of new challenges for greater success.
Voice talents are expected to do a good job no matter their level of experience. As a talent, you should always do your best and look for new leads and opportunities for voice work. Ace a style that you may be perfect for in a particular genre. See what talents and skills lie within you and find out how you can become the best at being you.
Breaking Through Is Hard
Don’t let words like “can’t, no, too hard, too old, not talented enough, or don’t know,” hold you back. Breaking through is about learning what one needs to learn and going for the job or assignment. What works for one voice talent may not work for another. So, find what works for you and do the hard work. Don’t let procrastination or fear rob you of your breakthrough moments.
In one of my first directed sessions, a comment made by a couple of the producers changed the timbre of the session for me. They remarked about how another voice actor was so easy to work with and took almost no time when being directed. As a talent in my second session, hearing producers sing the praises of another talent was not encouraging. In fact, the comments made me feel insecure, and the session did not go well for me. Later, I realized I can’t control comments made by producers, but I could control my behavior. I learned from this experience. Now when I’m in a directed session, I remind myself that I am working in my studio and on my time. I think to myself, “I am enough for THIS job.” It’s up to me if I want to do this job or not. Taking control of the session helps me break through and unleash my talent and success.
“Every success is built on the ability to do better than good enough.”
No End To Real Breakthrough
Many famous people don’t achieve all their dreams and goals. If you were to interview history makers in entertainment at the end of their careers, many would say they have not achieved the success they wanted. Still, breakthrough people keep going forth and don’t spend too much time counting their former success. Part of that is why they are successful.
As a voice talent, it’s your job to become better than your last job. So, continue your learning and growing with the industry. Keep your chops, knowledge, and equipment ready to keep you competitive. Yes, acknowledge your success, but don’t stop growing. Keep moving forward as a voice actor, meeting the challenges, and growing your success. If you’ve reached your business goals, great. Now go make new ones.
Learn to review and appreciate the past achievements of others. But more importantly, learn from the break-in talent and push to make your breakthrough success.
Go ahead and break that lip! #breakthatlip